December 30, 2019

Report from Amsterdam Colloquium 2019

The 2019 Amsterdam Colloquium took place from December 18 through 20 at the Amsterdam Science Park.

Suzi Lima (faculty) gave one of the invited talks for the Workshop on Semantic Universals: "What do we count? A view from Brazilian indigenous languages."

Suzi (centre) with colleagues Maribel Romero (Universität Konstanz) and Bernhard Schwarz (McGill University).

Michela Ippolito (faculty) also gave a talk: "Gestures as markers of non-canonical questions."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) was part of a talk with Anouk Dieuleveut (University of Maryland), Annemarie van Dooren (University of Maryland), and Valentine Hacquard (University of Maryland): "Learning modal force: Evidence from children's production and input."

Ewan Dunbar (MA 2008, now at l'Université Paris Diderot) was part of a talk with Mélissa Berthet (École normale supérieure), Juan Benjumea (Ghent University), Juliette Millet (Université Paris Diderot), Cristiane Cäsar (Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais), and Klaus Zuberbühler (University of St. Andrews): "Animal linguistics and the puzzle of Titi monkeys' alarm sequences."

The 'lightning talks' also included two alumni:

Julie Goncharov (Ph.D. 2015, now at the University of Tromsø) and Lavi Wolf (Ben Gurion University of the Negev): "Time matters: The role of temporal boundaries in NPI licensing."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) with Maxime Tulling (New York University): "The role of 'fake' past tense in acquiring counterfactuals."

December 29, 2019

LSA et al. 2020

The Linguistic Society of American's 94th Annual Meeting is taking place in New Orleans from January 2nd through 5th. Alongside it are the annual meetings of a number of 'sister societies'. Current U of T linguists and alumni taking part are:

Linguistic Society of America

Karlien Franco (postdoc) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"Lexicalization in grammatical change? The simple past/present perfect alternation in Canadian English."

Keren Rice (faculty) is both a discussant and a speaker on a symposium about language documentation:
"A brief introduction to DEL: Reflections on the intellectual merit of language documentation."

Daniel Milway (Ph.D. 2019):
"A workspace-based analysis of adjuncts."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) with Alicia Parrish (New York University):
"Acquisition of quantity-related inferences in 4- and 5-year-olds."

Ailís also has a poster with Vishal Sunil Arvindam (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Maxime Tulling (New York University):
"Do 2-year-olds understand epistemic maybe? Maybe!"

Bettina Spreng (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of Saskatchewan) has a poster:
"v-Asp Feature Inheritance: Some insights from Inuktitut and Swabian (Alemannic)."

Fulang Chen (MA 2017, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
"Split partitivity in Mandarin: A diagnostic for argument-gap dependencies."

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at the University of California, San Diego):
"Deriving ergativity from object shift across Eskimo-Aleut."

Michelle also has a talk with Ksenia Ershova (Stanford University):
"Dependent case in syntactically ergative languages: Evidence from Inuit and West Circassian."

Neil Banerjee (BA 2016, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology):
"Ellipsis as Obliteration: Evidence from Bengali negative allomorphy."

Nicholas Rolle (MA 2010, now at Princeton University) with Emily Clem (University of California, San Diego) and Virginia Dawson (University of California, Berkeley):
"Altruistic inversion and doubling in Tiwa morphology."

Recent faculty member Nicholas LaCara:
"Synthetic compounding in Distributed Morphology with phrasal movement."

American Dialect Society

Karlien Franco (postdoc) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"How to gain a new guy in 10 decades: A study of lexical variation in Ontario dialects."

Derek Denis (faculty), Chantel Briana Campbell (BA), Eloisa Cervantes (BA), Keturah Mainye (BA), Michelle Sun (BA), Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.) and colleague Jeanne F. Nicole Dingle (University of British Columbia):
"Ideologies and social meanings around Multicultural Toronto English."

Lauren Bigelow (Ph.D.) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"Where have all the articles gone? Bare nominals in Marmora and Lake, Ontario."

Emily Blamire (Ph.D.) and Marisa Brook (faculty):
"Very quick reversal: Rapid real-time change in Canadian English intensifiers."

Naomi Nagy (faculty) and James Walker (BA 1989, now at La Trobe University) with Michol Hoffman (York University) and Ronald Beline Mendes (University of São Paulo):
"Sounds of the city: Perceptions of ethnically marked speech in Toronto."

Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.):
"Uh, that’s a little rude: Implicit judgments of um and uh in instant messaging."

Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba) has a poster with Sky Onosson (University of Manitoba):
"Ethnolinguistic vowel differentiation in Manitoba."

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) has a poster:
"On being a caregiver and a community member in the midst of language change."

Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americans (SSILA)

Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University)
"The prosody of anger and surprise in Cayuga."

Patricia A. Shaw (Ph.D. 1976, now at the University of British Columbia) and Severn Cullis-Suzuki (University of British Columbia):
"Xaayda kil intonation patterns: Empowering language learners to 'sing' like their elders."

Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst):
"Bare nouns and negation in Tłı̨chǫ Yatıì relative clauses."

Paulina Lyskawa (MA 2015, now at the University of Maryland) with Christopher Baron (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) and Rodrigo Ranero (University of Maryland):
"Narcissistic allomorphy in Santiago Tz'utujil."

American Name Society

Kate Brennan (Ph.D., Centre for Comparative Literature):
"Semantic relations and personal names in literature: Naming as authority."

North American Research Network in Historical Sociolinguistics (NARNiHS)

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) is part of a panel with Joseph Salmons (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Rik Vosters (Vrije Universiteit Brussel):
"Historical sociolinguistics: Lineage and leading edge."

Society for Computation in Linguistics (SCiL)

Ella Rabinovich (postdoc, Department of Computer Science) is part of a poster with Maria Ryskina (Carnegie Mellon University), Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick (University of California, San Diego), David Mortensen (Carnegie Mellon University), and Yulia Tsvetkov (Carnegie Mellon University):
"Where new words are born: Distributional semantic analysis of neologisms and their semantic neighbourhoods."

Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics

James Walker (BA 1989, now at La Trobe University):
"Complements of the Eastern Caribbean."

December 26, 2019

Chris on CBC News

In conjunction with the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages for 2019, the CBC has profiled our own Chris Harvey (Ph.D.) and the extensive work that he has been doing for digital typography of Indigenous languages of Canada.

December 20, 2019

Alex in Arts & Science News

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) is profiled this week in the Arts & Science newsletter with a focus on her well-underway Kids Talk project, which follows young children from the age of three well into elementary school and explores when variation appears and what it looks like.

December 19, 2019

Update from Naomi

Naomi Nagy (faculty) has recently brought the holiday spirit into her sabbatical research activities through two talks! One was at the University of Maine on December 4: "How a linguist thinks about chocolate." The other, at the University of Duisberg-Essen on November 14, was: "Intergenerational change in Toronto's heritage languages?" It was part of a special lecture series, as follows:

December 13, 2019

Workshop on Speech and Attitude Reports in Brazilian Languages

Following their organization of the workshop on Complex Structures in Brazilian Languages at ABRALIN in May, Suzi Lima (faculty), Tonjes Veenstra (Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft), and Hein van der Voort (Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi) joined forces on a second workshop: Speech and Attitude Reports in Brazilian Languages.

Suzi herself presented:
"Quotatives in Yudja."

Guillaume Thomas (faculty) presented:
"The landscape of attitude reports in Mbya."

A talk on quotatives in Ye'kwana and Taurepang included two of the undergraduates students from the U of T who took part in Suzi's REP course over the summer - Octavia Andrade-Dixon and Guilherme Akio Teruya - as well as Suzi and the local professor who helped organize the REP course, Isabella Coutinho Costa.

(Thanks to Suzi for the photos!)

Suzi and Tonjes

Most of the workshop presenters!

December 10, 2019

Some year-end milestones!

At the end of 2019, we have much to celebrate - even on top of conferences, publications, workshops, awards, new jobs, graduations, guest speakers, birthdays, outreach, and the U.N. International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Notably, six of our Ph.D. students presented successful thesis proposals this semester (Kaz Bamba, Emily Blamire, Frederick Gietz, Kiranpreet Nara, Fiona Wilson, and Heather Yawney) - spanning phonetics, phonology, syntax, language variation, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, and language documentation. Congratulations to all!

We also have a couple of ten-year anniversaries to mark. For one thing, it has now been a decade since our relocation! We spent the week of December 14-18, 2009 moving from the sixth floor of Robarts Library to the fourth floor of Sidney Smith Hall. Given the choice between a classroom and a lounge in Sidney Smith Hall, we opted for a lounge - which has since become the central crossroads and gathering-place of the department. It has served not only as workshop venue, reception area, and lunchroom, but also a veritable incubator of friendships and research collaborations (sometimes both at once). Attesting to its value, graduate students talking to prospective students sometimes single out the lounge as a major advantage of our department.

This blog is also now ten years old, having been established in the second half of 2009. It has since been through several editing teams and underwent a visual overhaul in the autumn of 2015, but has been chronicling department life for a decade. Here's hoping this ultimately proves to have been just one decade of many!

December 9, 2019

Multiple new publications in CJL

This month's issue of the Canadian Journal of Linguistics - 64(4) - is a collection of papers from the Manitoba Workshop on Person in September 2017. The introduction is by organizers Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba) and Jila Ghomeshi (Ph.D. 1996, now at the University of Manitoba). Several of the papers are also by current departmental members and alumni:

Bronwyn M. Bjorkman (former postdoc, now at Queen's University), Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at St. Mary's Unversity), and Andrew Peters (Ph.D.) have a paper: "Person and deixis in Heiltsuk pronouns."

Harbour (2016) argues for a parsimonious universal set of features for grammatical person distinctions, and suggests (ch. 7) that the same features may also form the basis for systems of deixis. We apply this proposal to an analysis of Heiltsuk, a Wakashan language with a particularly rich set of person-based deictic contrasts (Rath 1981). Heiltsuk demonstratives and third-person pronominal enclitics distinguish proximal-to-speaker, proximal-to-addressee, and distal (in addition to an orthogonal visibility contrast). There are no forms marking proximity to third persons (e.g., ‘near them’) or identifying the location of discourse participants (e.g., ‘you near me’ vs. ‘you over there’), nor does the deictic system make use of the clusivity contrast that appears in the pronoun paradigm (e.g., ‘this near you and me’ vs. ‘this near me and others’). We account for the pattern by implementing Harbour's spatial element χ as a function that yields proximity to its first- or second-person argument.

Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université du Québec à Montréal): "Person complementarity and (pseudo) Person Case Constraint effects: Evidence from Inuktitut."

This paper examines the nature of person complementarity in Eastern Canadian Inuktitut (Eskimo-Aleut), arguing that despite its apparent patterning as a Person Case Constraint (PCC) effect, it is not due to the presence of a defective intervener blocking person agreement with a lower argument, as is often the case in other languages. Instead, the observed effect is caused by a defective or missing person probe on C that cannot value local person features on absolutive arguments. Given the use of the PCC as a diagnostic for differentiating clitics and agreement, this result has implications for the proper identification of φ-marking in Inuktitut.

Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D. 2019): "Dissociating the Person Case Constraint from its 'repair'."

In French ditransitive sentences, certain person combinations of the two internal arguments cannot be expressed with two co-occurring clitics (a phenomenon referred to as the Person Case Constraint or PCC). To fill the interpretational gap created by this restriction, there is an alternative construction characterized as a 'repair', where the goal is realized as an independent phrase. The fact that the double-clitic construction and the repair construction are in complementary distribution led to a proposal of an interface algorithm that provides a way to repair a non-convergent structure. This article proposes an alternative account of the PCC, and claims that the complementarity between the PCC and its repair is instead accidental and is an artefact of the feature structure of arguments. The proposed account explains the unavailability of certain clitic combinations and some repairs independently, without resorting to a trans-derivational device like the previously proposed algorithm.

December 5, 2019

New linguistics videos created by LIN101 students!

This semester, our teaching team for LIN101: Introduction to Linguistics: Sound Patterns (consisting of faculty member Peter Jurgec and fourteen TAs) had the students do small independent research projects of various types. Among the video projects, there were three standout submissions - which we are thrilled to share with the wider community!

Music and Language
Phonology of Elvish

December 4, 2019

New paper: Schertz, Kang, and Han (2019)

Jessamyn Schertz (faculty), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), and colleague Sungwoo Han (Inha University) have a new paper in Laboratory Phonology, 10(1): "Sources of variability in phonetic perception: The joint influence of listener and talker characteristics on perception of the Korean stop contrast."

Where there is dialectal variability in production of a sound contrast, listeners from the two dialects may show parallel differences in perception. At the same time, perception is not static and can be influenced by other factors, including listeners’ experience with, and expectations about, different talkers. This work examines perception of the Korean three-way stop phonation contrast by listeners of two dialects of Korean. We examine to what extent listeners’ perception reflects production norms in their local community and, via a reverse matched-guise task, test whether their knowledge of cross-dialectal variability plays an active role in the way they categorize the contrast. While perception appears to reflect production norms on a broad level, we found age-related differences in perception, even for listener groups who showed no sign of a parallel difference in production. Furthermore, listeners showed different response patterns depending on the apparent dialect of the talker. Our results suggest that exposure to dialectal variability and expectations about the talker influence perception.

December 3, 2019

Research Groups: Friday, December 6

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Thesis proposal of Fiona Wilson (Ph.D.): "Variation in Cree negation."

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Two presentations by alumni:

Dan Milway (Ph.D. 2019): "A workspace-based analysis of adjuncts."
I present a novel analysis of adjunction, according to which host-adjunct structures are not generated by any form of Merge, but rather host and adjuncts are derived in parallel workspaces and collapsed into a single string upon externalization. I present three arguments in favor of this analysis. First, I argue that it follows directly from the basic properties of adjunction. Second I argue that it gives a natural account of adjunct island effects. And finally, I argue that it assumes a simpler grammar than other leading analyses of adjunction.

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba): "Deriving variation in inverse marking."
Algonquian languages are known for the special 'inverse' agreement pattern that appears in some transitive verb forms. It is less well known that the precise distribution of the inverse pattern varies extensively: across the Algonquian family, transitive forms in which a non-SAP acts on an SAP show eleven different distributions of inverse marking. I show that these eleven contexts fall along a striking 'staircase' cline. I argue that each step along the cline - that is, each different distribution of inverse marking - can be derived simply by varying the features sought by the probe on Infl. This analysis is consistent with proposals that inverse marking is simply a special form of agreement morphology (Béjar and Rezac 2009) rather than an entirely distinct inflectional category (as proposed in, e.g., Bliss, Ritter, and Wiltschko 2014).

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Semantics Research Group
Thesis proposal of Frederick Gietz (Ph.D.): "A computational approach to complement coercion."

December 2, 2019

Quechuan Languages Workshop

With Suzi Lima (faculty) and two language consultants at the helm, this semester's Field Methods class investigated two varieties of Quechua. Following up from last year's workshop on Iranian languages and 2017's on Malagasy, we are holding a Quechua Languages Workshop on Thursday, December 5, in the department lounge. Come hear about the research the students have been doing! (Note: if you would like to attend part or all of the workshop, please register here. Thanks!)

Ewen Lee (BA):
"Resolving pronoun ambiguity in Calcauso Quechua."

Crystal Chow (MA):
"Expressing paths of motion in Apurimac Quechua."

Chanell Chlopowiec (BA):
"When in Peru, do as the Quechua do: A linguistic analysis of compounding in Cuzco and Apurimac Quechua."

Mark Smith (BA):
"Eliminating exceptions in Calcauso Quechua."

Christina Duong (BA) and Seo Hyun Hong (BA):
"Evidentiality: A comparison between Cusco and Apurimac Quechua."

Rosie Owen (BA):
"Metaphors in Cuzco Quechua."

Allyson Balaz (MA):
"The semantics of cutting and breaking events in Quechua: A brief typological overview."

December 1, 2019

Report from URLR

We hosted a workshop on Urban and Rural Language Research at Trinity College on November 9-10. Conceived by Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and Arne Ziegler (University of Graz), the event brought a number of Austrian visitors to Canada. Fortunately, the snowstorm did not manage to call off the trip to Niagara Falls!

Special thanks to Karlien Franco (postdoc) for her exceptional organisational work throughout the planning process, and to Arne, to Jack Chambers (faculty) and to Derek Denis (faculty) for giving the plenary talks!

Pre-workshop dinner: Arne Ziegler (University of Graz), Derek Denis (faculty), Karlien Franco (postdoc), Kaleigh Woolford (Ph.D.), Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.), Dragana Rakocevic (University of Graz), Marisa Brook (faculty), Gerrit Tscheru (University of Graz), Stefanie Edler (University of Graz), Ann Kathrin Fischer (University of Graz), and Theresa Monsberger (University of Graz). (Photo by Sali.)

Dragana, Katharina, Teresa, Stefanie, and Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.) were the panellists on a very lively session chaired by Sali about ethical/logistical issues arising in sociolinguistic fieldwork.
(Photo by Derek.)